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Peninsula couple provides vital support to families of children facing life-threatening illness

Bay Area couple helps support families who have children battling critical illness
Bay Area couple helps support families who have children battling critical illness 03:41

LOS ALTOS -- A husband-and-wife team based on the Peninsula are "there with care," bringing compassion and support to families with children battling critical illness. 

When Brad and Christy Cole's daughters graduated from college, she looked for a way to serve others.

"I came to a training, and it was a perfect fit for me," Christy said.

It opened a door for them both.

"She wanted me to tag along. We love doing stuff together," added Brad Cole.

The husband and wife team volunteer with There With Care.

The nonprofit, which began in Colorado, gives families caring for critically ill children free support. That assistance can range from financial help to basic necessities.

The Coles have spent 11 years easing the burden of families in need.

"When they do feel really alone, they feel isolated," Brad explained. "I think the term we hear a lot is, 'Overwhelmed everyday with all I've got to do and what the child needs.' It's just nice to have somebody come and help."

"I want them to know that there is a community that is there for them and that they're not walking through this alone," Christy added.

A retired teacher, Christy and her husband Brand -- who is a retired health care technology executive -- have donated their time to There With Care since the Bay Area chapter opened in 2012.

From the Redwood City warehouse, they were the first volunteers to pack and deliver food and supplies to families early in the pandemic.

And their empathetic support have been invaluable to folks like the Coronados, a family who came to the Bay Area from southern California hoping for a miracle for their daughter, Fernanda.

"It's really hard, because you see this child that will die without a double lung transplant," explained Christy.

In the end, Fernanda got the transplant and both families forged a lasting bond.

"It was a family relationship by the end of our time together," said Christy.

Program director Lisa Scheidecker says the Coles go above and beyond. The Los Altos Hills couple has touched the lives of more than a hundred of the thousands of families There With Care has supported locally.

In the Bay Area, the nonprofit accepts family referrals through Lucile Packard and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.

"They're like a warm hug," said Scheidecker of the Coles. "They've been matched with so many of our families. They bring strong connections with them."

The Coles feel grateful they've served together for a quarter of their 45 year marriage.

"It's just a wonderful experience," Christy said.

"I feel like we're doing a really small thing," Brad added. "And anybody could do it. Why not keep doing it?"

So for being "there with care" for families facing a child's life-threatening condition, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Christy and Brad Cole.        

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